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Mehdi Hasan: Raed Salah DID Spread Blood Libel

Mehdi Hasan wrote in his recent New Statesman article gloating over Raed Salah:

He was dubbed a “vile miltant extremist” and an “anti-Semitic preacher of hate” by the Daily Mail, a “hate preacher” by the Sun and an “‘anti-Semitic’ speaker” by the Jewish Chronicle [...] So what next? I’m told Salah is preparing to sue members of Her Majesty’s press over their alleged smear tactics

Hasan now appears to have completely changed his position. Here is his update:

I’ve been rung up by a guy (coward?) using a fake name, pretending to be a member of the public, who accused me of supporting Raed Salah’s alleged “blood libel” and who has since written up his version of our phone conversation on a right-wing, Islamophobic blog. He seems to be as dumb and close-minded as some of the commenters below, so let me say this slowly, very slowly: just because I don’t agree with the Home Secretary and the media’s treatment of Salah, a man I’ve never met or spoken to, doesn’t mean I automatically support everything Salah has said or done in the past. Does that make sense? Take your time.

To those below the line who claim I expressed “solidarity” with Salah, show me where I did so? Do you have a single quote to back up your claim? I say again, disagreeing with the state’s treatment of an individual doesn’t make you a supporter or apologist for that individual; it makes you a supporter and defender of due process, fair trials and human rights.

As for the “blood libel” row, let me say that it is one of the most disgusting, heinous and unforgivable of anti-Semitic smears in existence – which is probably why Salah has been so keen to deny having used it, though it does, I have to say, seem as if he did use it. The judge in the case, of course, didn’t accept his denial. Interestingly, the respected if controversial Israeli historian Ilan Pappe supports Salah on this particular, contentious issue and it is worth pointing out that the Israeli government curiously decided not to prosecute him for those seemingly inflammatory comments at the time. Forgive me, therefore, if, for now, I sit on the fence on this one…

As you can see, Hasan takes a while to reach his admission of the blood libel. First you have to get through a whole paragraph about yours truly. Thereafter, he tries to muddy the water, by suggesting that Ilan Pappe’s defence of Raed Salah – which the judge rejected - makes this a “contentious issue”. Finally, Hasan contradicts himself by claiming he is sitting on the fence.

Mehdi Hasan’s update is significant. Just a few hours ago, he told me by phone, and Stephen Pollard by Twitter, that this blood libel was a “grey area” and how “Raed Salah denies it, I deny it”. Now he admits it happens.

To recap:

  1. Mehdi Hasan acknowledges that the blood libel is anti-Semitic.
  2. Mehdi Hasan acknowledges that Raed Salah used the blood libel.
  3. Mehdi Hasan still thinks Raed Salah could sue The Sun, The Jewish Chronicle and the Daily Mail for calling Salah an anti-Semitic hate preacher.

I wonder, why did it take so long for Mehdi Hasan to admit to the blood libel?

It is very poor that the political editor of the New Statesman should write an article dismissing claims that Raed Salah is antisemitic, then reluctantly admit that Salah pronounced an “antisemitic smear” against Jews – and even then, after a couple of days of intense argument.

If I were Mehdi Hasan, I would now remove the scare quotes around “vile”, “extremist”, “hate preacher” and “anti-Semitic” when discussing media descriptions of Raed Salah.

I would also acknowledge that the Sun, the Jewish Chronicle and the Daily Mail have every right to describe Salah in that way, because Raed Salah is a vile, extreme, anti-Semitic hate preacher.

Will Mehdi Hasan now re-write or alter his article?

I would just like to add that on a personal note, I never pretended to be a member of the public. Rather, I am a member of the public, and my Hebrew nickname is Yossi, which my friends and I use. I’m also known as “Joe”. Harry’s Place is not Islamophobic – it is a secular and liberal blog which does not take theological positions, but which does oppose both bigotry targeted towards religious minorities, and bigotry perpetrated in the name of religion.